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by Mike Zazaian September 21, 2006 - 12:52pm, No Comments

A Continental frequent flier lounge

After an attempt by the Massachusetts Port Authority to shut down free WiFi services provided by Continental Airlines, an FCC ruling has forced the powers that be to back off.

Continental recently implemented a system of free WiFi and wired internet for passengers in their frequent flier lounges at Boston’s Logan International Airport. The Massachusetts Port Authority, or Massport, who currently sells pay-per-play WiFi internet throughout Logan, claims that Continental’s service would violate its own network, pose a security risk and interfere with their lease agreement.

After the confrontation Continental immediately went to the FCC for support of its WiFi network. The matter will be taken to vote by five FCC Chairmen including Kevin Martin, who has already showed support for Continental. Two of the remaining four FCC Chairmen will have to approve of Continental’s actions for their network to be legitimized. Said Contintental Spokesman Dave Messing:

We are optimistic that the FCC will confirm Continental’s right, consistent with the agency’s existing rules, to continue providing free Wi-Fi service to Continental customers at Logan and other airports.

A favorable ruling for Continental could set a precedent for airlines across the country to implement free WiFi networks to fliers, frequent and non-frequent alike. Currently wireless networks such as Massport’s dominate US airports, charging travellers as much as $US 10 for a single hour of internet use. Such actions have drawn support for Continental from competing airlines, wireless internet companies, and even parcel carrier UPS.

[via cnet]